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Mining is a game mechanic that allows players to harvest ores for use in various crafting mechanics including casting and smithing advanced Tools and Weapons.

Required Materials

To begin mining, a player needs two specialized tools, the pickaxe and the prospecting pick. An optional item is a mining bag, which has 10 available inventory slots and holds ores.

Obtaining Metal Ores Prior to Mining

Herein lies the conundrum. The tools required for mining must be made from metal by casting, but the materials that players require to create metal tools can only be harvested when using metal tools! There are two methods available to collect enough smeltable ore nuggets (5 units of base metal) to create a pickaxe without mining.


Small stones containing ores appear on the surface of the world and are a good early game source of metal nuggets. To gather surface deposits, break the ore containing stones with an empty hand or any item to convert the stones into smeltable ore nuggets and collect in your inventory. These small surface deposits are an indicator of larger underground ore deposits. (Be sure to add a waypoint to mark the location for later mining operations.) Sometimes nuggets can be found in loot vessels located in ruins.


Copper nuggets can also be obtained by panning. See the panning guide for more information.

Obtaining Metal Ores by Mining

The actual process of mining needs no detailed explanation. When rock blocks are broken using a pickaxe, rock, small stones or ores contained in chunks of stone will be dropped. The more difficult aspect of mining is finding the ore to mine. As of game version 1.9, certain ore types only spawn in certain rock types. To determine which ores can occur in a rock type, examine a block, hold shift + H, and the handbook will provide information about what ores can appear in that rock type. For more information about natural deposits and ore generation, see the Ore Deposits page.

Mining in a vertical shaft is more effective because ores exist in "disc" shaped deposits.

Choosing a Location

There are two general methods used to choose a location "Exploration" and "Prospecting". These are not mutually exclusive and work very well when combined. Players can prospect to find a region with the desired ore, and then explore caves within that region to find exposed ore to mine.

Exploration (Random Method)

Explore the map to locate regions with rock types used in crafting (chalk, limestone) and rock types that are known to generate ores used in crafting tools, weapons, and metal items. Sometimes ores can be located by exploring caves with entrances exposed to the surface of the world. When exploring caves, it's a good idea to bring ladders to provide a way to climb up or down shafts, and lots of torches to light the cave and mark a path back out. The possibility for "Adventure" exists in every cave, so be ready to face great danger, but also to reap great rewards.

Caving Rewards

A benefit of exploring caves is that even if ores aren't present, players may locate underground ruins, which often contain treasures and materials that a player cannot acquire any other way. Static Translocators also exist in caves. These machines can be used to transport the player into uncharted regions of the world.

Caving Dangers

  • Locusts are a dangerous mob that spawns in caves and caverns.
  • Drifter that are tougher than those encountered on the surface also exist.
  • Drop shafts may extend for tens or hundreds of blocks in caverns, and players who fall into these cavernous pits have no chance of survival.
  • Lava exists at deeper levels underground and will burn players (and gear) if personally encountered!

Prospecting (Systematic Method)

Mining at locations marked by small surface deposits can be a good way to find ores, but not all ores in a region will spawn in surface stones. To find deeper ores, use the prospecting pick or "propick". Prospecting can be performed on the surface before choosing to mine in an area, and help players decide which regions are worthwhile to mine based on the ores present in the chunk.

Prospecting Process

To prospect, a player must break 3 rock blocks in 'close' proximity to "sample" the area for ores. The prospecting pick can only be used on rock blocks. These blocks must be located a minimum of 3 blocks apart (blocks between samples) and a maximum of 16 blocks apart. It is possible to sample three blocks within a square, or in a line where the last sample is 8 blocks away from the first sample. Upon breaking the third valid sample block, displays the densities of all the ores in the chat window based on the first of the three blocks prospected (broken).

  • Prospecting "Too Close": If a player breaks a block that is too close to another previously sampled block, the game dialog (displayed in the chat window) will repeat the request for that sample number. However, the game registers the faulty sample as a hit and begins the prospecting block count for the player's next hit from the last hit, which was thefaulty sample. To take a new sample, players must prospect at least 3 blocks from the faulty sample block hit, even though the action did not count toward the prospecting total.
  • Prospecting "Too Far": If a block is prospected that is too far (over 16 blocks) from the initial sample, the game dialog (displayed in the chat window) will display a message stating that this sample is too distant to be used with previous samples taken. The game will convert this last block hit into a new starting sample. Thus when prospecting, if blocks are broken "too far away" from each other, the consequence is that a player must restart the process of sampling.

Prospecting Results

To interpret the information, one must understand that this tool does not detect the actual presence of ore blocks; but detects the chance that ores are present. The game uses randomly generated ore density maps whenever a chunk is generated. These determine the chance for ores to appear. Even if a player removed all the ores from a chunk, the prospecting reading would remain the same. Additionally, some ores are not detected by prospecting: quartz, rock salt, or surface copper.

The display is based on the first of the three blocks broken. The game reads the chunk density map and displays the densities of all the ores in the chat window. These values reflect the potential density, not the actual ore.

From most to least dense the categories displayed are: Ultra High, Very High, High, Decent, Poor, Very Poor. This category is followed by a number in parentheses, given in parts per thousand or 'PPT' (per mille - note there are two zeros below the slash, ‰, as opposed to a normal percent sign, %, which has one zero below).

Different ores will display drastically different density descriptors for the same PPT ‰ reading (based on the rarity of the material). For instance:

  • Common ores such as Deep Copper, Coal, and Sulfur will have Very High densities at around 18‰; and Very Poor below 5‰
  • Rare ores such as diamond and emerald will have Very High densities at around 1.0‰ and Very Poor at 0.2‰

Prospecting for Ore Fields

Prospecting results should be similar for 4 chunks in an area because the ore densities are created from a density map generated with the world, at a resolution of approximately 32 blocks. The ore densities will tend to have a more concentrated 'center' and then decrease when moving towards the circumference. So when locating a low density reading of any desired ore, try taking other prospecting samples some distance away in other directions to find an area with a higher reading. With enough sampling, a player can locate the center of the ore field, which often span a great many chunks.

Note: The prospecting pick will not detect quartz, rock salt, or surface copper. The prospecting pick only detects ores above a certain threshold. Players will occasionally find ore deposits in a region when the prospecting pick did not indicate the ores are present. Such 'undetected' occurrences are very rare.

Mining Products

Smeltable nuggets do not drop from rocks when mined. Instead, ores contained in chunks of stone will be dropped. When mining, inventory space is generally at a premium, and these chunks occupy less space than "smeltable nuggets". Ores within rock must be crushed with a hammer in the crafting grid to obtain smeltable nuggets. "Rich" chunks have a higher concentration of ore and will generate more nuggets when crushed, so be sure to create smithy storage containers to store the ores!

Tutorial Video: "How to Use the Prospecting Pick"

Thanks to Asgaard for creating and sharing with the VS community.

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